Janet Evans, Jamal Hill Headline First Annual Swim Up Hill Virtual Event

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Jamal Hill; Photo Courtesy: Instagram, @swimuphill

Para swimmer Jamal Hill, the founder of Swim Up Hill, and Janet Evans headlined the organization’s first annual event, a virtual happening that brought together more than 40 aquatic community leaders in the Los Angeles area.

The theme of the first event was “Building a More Inclusive Waterscape.” Hill, who is aspiring to earn a place in the 2021 Tokyo Paralympics, founded Swim Up Hill with the goal of teaching one million people to swim, with an emphasis on communities of color like the one he grew up in in Los Angeles.

The event, held Sept. 24, featured representatives from USA Swimming, Airbnb, the Los Angeles 2028 Organizing Committee, Nike Swim, Procter & Gamble and the Boys & Girls Club of America, among other local businesses, nonprofits and educational institutions. Representatives from several California cities, including Carson, Lynwood and Culver City, also attended. Swim Up Hill will provide video of the presentations on its website and YouTube channel in the coming weeks.

Speakers at the event included Evans, the four-time Olympic gold medalist and the Chief Athletic Officer of the LA28 Organizing Committee; mental skills coach Wilma Wong; and Hill, 25, a member of Team USA’s Council on Racial and Social Justice and part of this summer’s Swimmers for Change campaign. Their talks discussed strategies to standardize and create sustainable swimming education practices, developmental programs for coaches and officials, and “build momentum into the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games” in L.A. Hill’s organization has created the Splash at Home program to teach in-home water safety remotely as an Airbnb experience.

Hill, who studied physics at Hiram College and was diagnosed at age 23 with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, has represented the U.S. in para swimming since 2018. He’s spent the last two years collecting data on learn-to-swim efforts to develop curriculum that is accessible to coaches and novices alike. “Our goal was to bring ideas to the community that brought us to the edge of our comfort zones and pushed us to think about things in a different way,” Hill said in his talk.

Wong’s talk, “Underdogs (In Real Life),” involved dealing with adversity and how to see setbacks as opportunities to imagine new solutions, collaborate and change. Evans’ “Investing in A Beautiful Future” presentation outlined public and private investments across Los Angeles ahead of the 2028 Olympics, especially as they pertain to aquatic opportunities and access to swimming facilities.

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